ARTBOOK: Marc, as you may have seen, we have an Ex Libris column on our blog, in which artists, authors, publishers and booksellers list their top ten books. Can you list for us your ten most formative books--the books that steered you towards publishing and translating late nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, and matters Pataphysical?
Marc Lowenthal: I’m restricting myself to authors whom I read and return to as a whole, so the specific titles here could just as easily read ‘their works in general.’ In alphabetic order:
1. Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess, edited by Allan Stoekl (University of Minnesota Press)
2. André Breton: Nadja, tr. Richard Howard (Grove Press)
3. René Daumal: The Powers of the Word, tr. Mark Polizzotti (City Lights)
4. Witold Gombrowicz: Cosmos, tr. Eric Mosbacher (Grove Press)
5. Knut Hamsun: Mysteries, tr. Gerry Bothmer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
6. Henri Michaux: Selected Writings, tr. Richard Ellmann (New Directions)
7. Gérard de Nerval: Aurélia, tr. Geoffrey Wagner (Exact Change)
8. Friedrich Nietzsche: The Gay Science, tr. Walter Kaufmann (Vintage)
9. Raymond Queneau: Pierrot Mon Ami, tr. Barbara Wright (Dalkey Archive)
10. Arthur Rimbaud: Illuminations, tr. Louise Varèse (New Directions)
And maybe I can add an eleventh, since she wouldn’t disrupt the alphabetization (though “disrupting the alphabet” seems like a phrase that could describe her writing):
Unica Zürn/The Man of Jasmine, tr. Malcolm Green (Atlas Press).
But the Zürn reminds me of the more general debt I owe to Malcolm Green, since his Atlas Press anthology, Black Letters Unleashed, reintroduced and redefined German literature for me back in college; or Simon Watson Taylor’s translations of Alfred Jarry, etc. etc. So it is easier to cite the publishing houses whose translation programs were formative for me: New Directions, Grove Press, City Lights, Dalkey Archive, Atlas Press, Exact Change, Sun & Moon--the first time I picked up Michaux, for instance, wasn’t because of an interest in Michaux, or a curiosity over Joyce-Yeats-Wilde scholar Ellmann’s name in conjunction with a French-Belgian author, but because it was a New Directions book and figured into their series of selected writings of French poets.
Launched in 2009, Wakefield Press is an independent American publisher devoted to the translation of overlooked gems and literary oddities in small, affordable and elegant paperback editions. Its publications include the Wakefield Handbooks series--which the press defines as "the guidebook as imagined through literature"--and the Imagining Science series ("science as imagined through literature"), as well as forays into classic experimental fiction.
An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris By Georges Perec. One overcast weekend in October 1974, Georges Perec set out in quest of the "infraordinary": the humdrum, the non-event, the everyday--"what happens," as he put it, "when nothing happens." His choice of locale was Place >>more
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Pbk, 4.5 x 7 in. / 72 pgs / 1 b&w.
Pub Date: 09/30/2010